World News Brief, Wednesday May 8

John Kerry in Moscow for talks with Putin; North Korea moves two missiles from launch sites on eastern coast; China targeting US government computers as part of cyber espionage campaign, says Pentagon; pre-election violence in Pakistan; Muslim Brotherhood' increases presence in Egyptian government; and more

Top of the Agenda: Kerry Meets Putin on Syria Crisis

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to bridge the two countries' divide over the Syria conflict (BBC). The meeting occurs amid growing concern over regional escalation of Syria's civil war. A spokesperson for a Damascus-based Palestinian group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given clearance (AP) to prepare missiles to attack Israel following reported Israeli airstrikes on the Syrian capital over the weekend. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said the air raids, which reportedly killed more than forty people, were "unacceptable" (Hurriyet).


"I expect that the most [Kerry] can achieve is that the Russians will perhaps not be so strident about the Americans and their allies taking actions. Probably the best [the United States] can hope for is that [Russia] will do nothing actively to help Assad against any American and Western action," expert Mark Katz tells Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

"It is questionable whether Israel would actually benefit from U.S. military intervention in Syria, either strategically or in light of the inevitable accusation that Israel 'pushed' the U.S. into action. In fact, an American military intervention might just expand the theater of operations and pull Israel into a war it doesn't want, rather than the other way around," writes Alon Pinkas for Haaretz.

"They demonstrate the Israeli Air Force's ability to hit targets well inside Syria, but they could be the first of many - a regular pattern of attacks that at any moment could risk provoking Syria, along with Hezbollah, into a regional war. The nightmare of a major spill-over of the Syria crisis would have become a reality," writes Jonathan Marcus for the BBC.



North Korea Moves Missiles

North Korea moved two missiles from launch sites on the country's eastern coast (AFP), signaling lowered tensions after worries that Pyongyang was ready to test the weapons. Tokyo and Seoul had stepped up missile defense systems, while Washington deployed two destroyers to thwart a launch.

CHINA: A Pentagon report said for the first time that China had targeted U.S. government computers as part of a cyber espionage campaign (BBC). China called the report "groundless."

Zachary Goldman discusses Washington's secret weapon against Chinese hackers in this Foreign Affairs article.


Pre-election violence in Pakistan

Muslim Brotherhood increases presence in Egyptian government

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